June 24, 2010 — Governor Jim Doyle, along with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and Connor Timber Associates, today announced an agreement to conserve 30 square miles of forestland, lakes and rivers in Forest County in northeast Wisconsin.
The agreement will conserve timber-related jobs and products, wildlife habitat, water quality and public access for outdoor recreation.
"It takes a real partnership to accomplish a project of this size and consequence," said Mary Jean Huston, director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. "Governor Doyle, Congressmen Steve Kagen and David Obey and Senator Herb Kohl all played key roles in making this possible, and I'd like to thank them for their leadership and commitment to conservation."
"In Wisconsin, forests are an important part of our economy and central to our way of life," Huston added. "This project will ensure that a beautiful and diverse landscape of forests, rivers and wild lakes remains undeveloped yet productive land, keeping it intact for wildlife and the enjoyment of future generations."
The Wabikon Waters and Woodlands project area encompasses:
The Nature Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources negotiated an agreement with Connor Timber Associates (formerly Wisconsin Timber Associates) to conserve 19,094 acres.
The initial phase of the project was completed in April when the Conservancy purchased 656 acres. The property includes most of the shoreline of Riley and Wabikon lakes, which are the highest-ranked lakes in Wisconsin for their natural values.
The project will also preserve wildlife corridors by connecting together large blocks of habitat within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Conservancy plans to transfer its 656 acres to the national forest, where it will be protected for its natural values and recreational opportunities. Funding for the acquisition has been requested from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the first phase of the funding has been secured.
The state of Wisconsin has also signed an agreement to purchase a conservation easement on 18,438 acres of working forest owned by Connor Timber Associates. The easement will ensure that the land continues to be managed sustainably for timber products, maintaining jobs in Wisconsin's forest industry.
Funding for the easement from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund was approved by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board yesterday.
The Connor family has owned and managed the property since 1872. The land provides lumber to three local companies and provides logging and timber-related jobs for more than 200 people in the communities of Laona, Wabeno, Crandon and Goodman.
The Wabikon Waters and Woodlands project will help protect these jobs and ensure that the land continues to provide lumber and flooring to numerous companies in Wisconsin, the U.S. and around the world.
The acquisition by The Nature Conservancy and the easement expected to be acquired this summer by the Department of Natural Resources will ensure that all 19,094 acres remain open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping, snowmobiling, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and wildlife watching.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.